Earlier today the Brewers traded Burke Badenhop to the Red Sox for Luis Ortega, a fringe LHP (non?)prospect. This is one of those trades that always flies under the radar because it’s not exciting. It’s certainly not Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler. Fans have a habit of glossing over these types of trades, but they can end up being very important for a club like the Brewers.
Badenhop was a fine reliever in 2013. He had an ERA/FIP of 3.47/3.53 on the season while putting up solid, if not spectacular peripherals: 6.06 K/9, 1.73 BB/9, and 0.87 with a 51.1 GB%. Seeing that you may wonder why the Brewers would want to give that up, but taking a closer look reveals the answer. First off, he displayed extreme splits between LHH (325/395/525, 5.08 FIP in 19.1 IP) and RHH (220/247/525, 2.64 FIP in 43 IP). That’s quite the platoon split, but at least it’s the strong side of it. He was also used mainly in low leverage situations, where he was rather good (6.46 K/9, 1.33 BB/9, 0.38 HR/9, 2.60 FIP in 47.1 IP). However he was rubbish in middle (6.10 K/9, 4.35 BB/9, 2.61 HR/9, 6.92 FIP in 10.1 IP) and high leverage situations (1.93 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, 1.00 HR/9, 5.41 FIP in 4.2 IP). With that in mind, it's a good bet that Donovan Hand can do something similar for league minimum.
Badenhop is entering his final arbitration year and was due a raise to around $2.1 million making him a likely non-tender. So when you think about it that way, the Brewers were able to trade nothing for something, and that’s great. Luis Ortega will be 21 next year and could open the season in low-A Wisconsin for the Brewers either as a starter or reliever. For whatever reason, the Brewers system is seriously lacking in LHP prospects so if he makes it to the major league club at some point, in any role, it’ll be a win for the Brewers. Probably not a big win, but it’s better than nothing at all. Worst-case scenario: He becomes nothing, and the Brewers are out nothing. Likely best case: He becomes a major league reliever for the Brewers that they can pay the league minimum for a few years allowing them to allocate money elsewhere (He could remain a starter, but let’s be conservative for now).